Sir Edward Elgar is famous for his classical scores – including the march that most Americans have graduated grammar school and high school to – but he is also reputed to be the first to write a soccer chant, or “terrace chant” as it’s known in England. So the relationship between classical music and soccer goes back almost 100 years.
(Elgar was a fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers, or Wolves as they’re called; the same team that Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant supports today.)
Today, classical music fans have multiple works about soccer to choose from. One is Jocelyn Pook's opera "Ingerland." Though I should say right up front that to call "Ingerland" a soccer opera actually misses the point: it's an opera about the psychology and sociology of soccer. Why some of us live and breath the game. How the emotions of the individual are amplified by the crowd. The sense of belonging that fans get when they're at a match together. The almost religious fervor, the chanting, the ecstasy of an important win. And, yes, the racist and homophobic taunts hurled at opponents. The baffled stares of the non-believers. And the dismissive complaints of those who actively dislike the game.
Music is about emotion. So is being a fan, of whatever sport. Not that I'm equating the two: music makes me feel good. Soccer, unless you're a fan of Manchester United or Brazil, usually ends in heartbreak.
Oops… Netherlands 2 – Brazil 1. Guess heartbreak comes to Brazil occasionally too.
Anyway, if you’re surprised about this century-old relationship between classical music and soccer, how about the month-old relationship between classical music and the latest tech toys? Yesterday the superstar pianist Lang Lang came in and played our piano – AND his iPad. It’s a pretty funny-looking performance, and you can find the video here.